Sunday, August 30, 2009

Leaders attend Kennedy funeral

Politicians from across the island of Ireland have paid their last respects at the funeral of Senator Edward Kennedy.

They included Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Mark Durkan and John Hume of the SDLP and Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

The US senator was buried with military honours at Arlington National cemetery in Washington.

Earlier, President Barack Obama had led tributes at the funeral in Boston.

He called the senator "the greatest legislator of his time".

The service in Boston was also attended by three former presidents - Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W Bush.

Three days of ceremonies to commemorate Mr Kennedy began on Thursday with a private family Mass at the family property in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

His body was then driven in a long procession to Boston along roads lined with thousands of mourners - some waving American flags, others holding up signs that read "Thank you Teddy".

A memorial service in the style of an Irish wake was held late on Friday for family and friends.

Books of condolence for Senator Kennedy's family were opened in Belfast and Dublin last week.

Senator Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in May last year.

He became a member of the Senate in 1962 to replace his brother when he resigned to become president, and was re-elected seven times.

In the US, Senator Kennedy's death has been seen as the end of an era.

Although hailed as one of the most influential US politicians, the senator's career remained blighted by the incident in 1969 when he drove his car off a bridge at Chappaquiddick in Massachusetts.

He fled the scene and a female companion, Mary Jo Kopechne, died.

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